Pressure To Get Married? 10 ways to get Auntyjis off your back 💁
Take a deep breath, suspend political correctness and revel in the crude humour.
We have all been there. I don’t believe it for a second that if you’re of Indian heritage and of marriageable age (read as soon as fucking possible, especially if you’re female) that your parents have not attempted to marry you off. From a mother’s only wish (out of all the wishes in the world, my marriage is what you’d ask for?! Stop Brexit perhaps?) to prying aunties, the importance of marriage and procreation is an omnipresent threat. Always lurking. At the gurdwara when you're in the house of God, to when you're minding your own business as you reach for that extra roti at a wedding buffet and always, always, always when you least expect it 😂.
As a gay man, I was always searching for an excuse to deter (hetero) marriage talk. I wasn’t ready to come out and had barely accepted myself. In fact I hadn’t, but I instinctively knew that entering into a heterosexual marriage was not for me. My head and my heart would go crazy, but I was quick on my feet and came out with the all the excuses, all the time. #noshame
My hope is that we all will believe in and demand our colourfull 🌈 lives, and perhaps that will include marriage for some of us. Until then, here are some tips on managing said Mummyjis, Auntyjis and any other overly invested relatives by embracing the power of Teflon and ensuring their 💩 don't stick.
My Teflon Top 10
I’m too young: Use your age! This only gets you to 25, maybe 26 if you’re lucky. Talk eloquently about your naivety, youth and immaturity. Of course you're not ready to be married. You can barely clean your room. And if you get married too young, this will stifle your parents’ other dream of you becoming a doctor. Your parents won’t be able to handle it and because status is everything in Indian culture, they will back the fuck off and let you live your best life. #Yaaaaaassss 🙌!
I’m still studying: Like reaching the pinnacle of a specific profession, nothing gets Indians more excited than education, study and grades. The amount of times I was told to ‘do your study’ by my Dad is countless. His focus was laser like on my grades. It meant that it was near impossible to bunk school and I was definitely not a cool kid. However, it all paid off. I could use education, my pursuit for higher knowledge and intellectual capability against my parents. Amazing! Toying with a Masters, good. Flirting with a PhD, even better. You might not become a ‘real’ doctor in their eyes, but any form of doctor will eventually do. #winning
I haven’t met the right person: This does depend on your parents’ mindset toward arranged and ‘love’ marriages. As the times become more liberal, they’ve begun to accept the fact that boys and girls do co-exist in the same spaces, and (cue shock horror) talk to one another. Which means that attitudes towards mixed-sex friendships is evolving. My parents were liberal. In fact, they thought me having so many female friends was a sign of my virility ('All the girls wanted their baby Deepak'). This is a great excuse, but needs to come with high drama and emotional pleas to wait until you meet your true love and that they are out there, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai style. Good luck!
I need to work more and build my independence: Once your education is done and dusted, parental focus moves to your job; namely what will you do that doesn't bring shame on the family. I made the most of this with heartbreaking stories of my #hardknocklife; travelling into Central London, riding the tube (ahem!), long hours and being important in an office. All to build my wealth, status and ability to marry. So I begged off that I needed to work hard, save some money and take care of myself like an independent man. Otherwise how will I know how to take care of my family. Reality: Payday = spending more than £100 at ASOS to get free delivery 🛍! #YOLO
I’m working for a promotion: Even better in the career stakes is not just working hard and saving money, but that you are now aiming for/being considered for a promotion. How exciting! Their beta (child) is going to be promoted, which equals even more status, even more wealth and being a highly desirable contender for eventual marriage. Which parent wouldn’t support you? Ham up the stress and pressure you're under, and that marriage talk is ‘just not what you need right now’. Works like a charm. #youarewelcome
I’m not ready: Admittedly, this is weak. When do we ever really know if we’re ready? My only tip is to say this with pitiful eyes and a slightly whiny voice (not overtly whiny, as this could lead to a tight slap to get yourself together). Say some grand things about identity, intellectuality, maturity and see what happens.
I need to live my life more: This could lead to a clampdown on freedom or confused, reluctant nods of resignation. It could conjure up images of you having wild sex (with the opposite sex obvs) in faraway places, clocking up the type of ‘life’ experiences that are never discussed at the dinner table and thoughts of potential shame to the family. At best, they may imagine you to be taking a writing class that bores you into submission and eventually get married. The way forward is to reassure them that you're going to volunteer in a country they haven't heard of/take a yoga teacher training course/do some type of pilgrimage 💃.
I plan to get married later in life: After the shock has subsided, you’ll hear your parents’ story for the umpteenth time that they were married young and it did them no harm. And what about having children (and implicitly, your peak fertile state). Later is not an easy concept for parents’ to grasp. I think secretly they are plotting to have one crazy, fucking cruise trip around the world once they have washed their hands off you (and your siblings). And you’re becoming a blocker. To make your point, counteract this with societal demographics that speak to later marriage, healthy children in your late 30s and that some people decide to/remain single. This alone is worth it just to see their faces 😱.
I need to get international experience (for my career): This one is tricky. I was lucky that my Mum works for British Airways, so I really worked the global citizen angle. It also meant that to initially get away, I needed to do something worthwhile. So I went and lived in Thailand to teach English (don't hate on me and call me a cliché). And it really was unique and worthwhile; I loved working with the students and learning about the community. But let's be real, I was 26, so obviously my MOST favourite experiences were in Spain, drinking chupitos and riding on the back of a hot guy’s moped.
I don’t believe in marriage: Hazard warning! Certain criteria needs to be in place to use this one, namely your parents are no longer together . So my parents are divorced - it wasn’t acrimonious but we're not happy, divorced family either. However, it gave the me the opening to question the value of marriage; both as a construct and as an ideal. For me, this was the lifeline I needed to buy me a chunk of time from my mid 20s to 30s. Bingo.
*sorry Mum and Dad 😘
There is a degree of overlap between all these excuses, so pick and mix as you see fit. Use liberally and use the time it buys you to think of even more excuses.
Disclaimer: You can try these excuses, but be prepared for Indian Parent Override (IPO: not of the money making, commercial profitability kind) which is when they try to push ahead to the point you relent and before you know it, it’s your engagement ceremony. Indian relatives are very cunning in that they find ways to rebuff every excuse you can make in favour getting you to that temple. Be wily, be strong and be like Teflon.